A few days ago I watched a dorky-cute teen-girl movie, Ice Princess. It’s about a girl who gives up a massive physics scholarship from Harvard to pursue ice skating. Like all stories about pursuing dreams and passion, it got me thinking about my dreams, as I came into college and now as I leave college. I had planned to attend Tech and study APSC ever since I first understood what college was, and as I entered college, riding was my passion. I selected my top three schools by their riding programs—Virginia Tech, Sweet Briar, and Hollins. This may seem a surprise to those who’ve watched my activities through college, for my visible passion is people.
To catch everyone up, here is a history of me and horses: I ride Hunter, an English style originating with Foxhunting, so I do a good bit of jumping. I own a horse, a Thoroughbred X Quarter Horse mare, 15.3ish, dark bay with dapples. Her name is Angel (Queen of Hearts), and she’s 22 like me. From about age 10 on, I was horse-obsessed. I began riding at age 12 (roughly 5 years after most of my peers started). I was good and very driven. I loved competition. I loved learning. But most of all I loved the feeling of flying above the ground as the world and all its cares rolled away. The summer between my college freshman and sophomore years, I actually trained to try out for the VT team—three months of exercise riding in return for private lessons and coaching. But I never tried out; when I returned to school, riding came to a seemingly dead halt. I stopped talking about it, I stopped doing it, and I even stopped thinking about it. To this day I still don’t really know why… It was like I just gave up. For no apparent reason I gave up horseback riding. That spring I got a job cleaning horse stalls! Sometimes it was torture—I hadn’t ridden in months, but was surrounded by horses daily. There were some days I would just sit in the barn crying, begging God for a way to ride. I didn’t get to ride regularly again until the following January; I got into a riding class at Tech. It was amazing and redemptive in many ways! I rode for two semesters, but had to stop when I dropped APSC.
The night that I decided to drop APSC, the decision actually came down to trusting God with horses. It then had little to do with careers or parents or grades; the last decision was all about the pretty ponies and trust. I was so afraid to let go of my hold on my passion again, afraid that it might not come back, afraid that it actually was over this time. The night that I chose to drop, I also chose not to try out for the riding team ever, a tryout which both of the coaches encouraged, and I chose not to take lessons at Tech. It was a rough night. But God showed up and moved massively in my heart.
Now as my undergraduate career comes to a close, I face feelings much like those of my sophomore year. Horseback riding seems on the verge of slipping away. Riding is an expensive hobby, and it doesn’t travel well. I find myself preparing to bury my dream again, but my dreams aren’t dead. And I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to bury a dream, but they don’t stay in the ground—even dead dreams seem to float back up to the surface. I know what I exchanged my dreams for—the pursuit of people and relationships and Jesus; I don’t regret it at all.
I don’t mean for this post to be “Everyone, look what Amanda gave up!” or a pity-party for myself, but more to digest doors closing and seasons shifting. I walk away from graduation without the things I had planned on—the degrees, the ponies, the relationships—but I possess the things I needed—the truths, the family, the redemption. I walk forward, yet again, to surrender and trust—to trust that my dreams are not dead, but are safely surrendered. “It’s just in His hands to come back the way He wanted it, and this time without all the stress and struggle.”